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Putin: Japan may review Soviet proposal on disputed islands

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pose for a photo during the ASEAN-Russia Summit in the ongoing 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 in Singapore. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has signaled readiness to discuss a Soviet-era proposal on settling a decades-old territorial dispute.

Putin said that during their meeting Wednesday on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore, Abe said that Tokyo could resume discussions on a 1956 Soviet proposal to return two of four disputed Pacific islands to Japan.

Speaking to reporters in Singapore on Thursday, Putin noted that the issue requires additional consideration as the Soviet initiative didn’t spell out conditions for the islands’ transfer.

The Soviet Union took the four southernmost Kuril Islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, in the closing days of World War II. The dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty.

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